I was sitting at our kitchen table listening to Aunt Mel talk to Joe over the phone. It was any ole average Tuesday morning with the exception that Joe's brother had won tickets for the Lakers game and Joe was taking a two day vacation to go to LA.
"Right Joe… Yeah well just because you won two tickets to see the Lakers doesn't mean you can just leave us here to starve… There are no waffles in the oven… I did look… Oh right that oven… Hey I've got to go." Aunt Mel threw the phone onto the counter like it was on fire, and then proceeded to pull out a heaping plate of waffles from the oven.
"Ooh, Joe made waffles!" I exclaimed.
"Sure Lennox, he made waffles, but he didn't leave any syrup so how great can they really be?"
My phone beeped. "Oh I got a text from Joe. 'Enjoy the waffles. The syrup is by the microwave,'" I read aloud to my clearly disgruntle aunt. She would hate to admit this, but she had become very dependent on Joe over the past year or so and was a bit off without the daily morning argument.
Mel looked over at the microwave disgusted. "Well then. You know what, I have to get in to work. I don't have time for any fancy-schmancy gourmet waffles."
My phone beeped again. "Tell Mel to just eat the damn waffles." I read aloud giggling.
"Fine, but I'm taking them to-go." Mel stacked a couple of waffles in a Tupperware bin. "But you tell Joe that we can survive without him for two days." She poured a good helping of syrup on her waffles, as I put a couple of waffles on my own plate. "Hey, be frugal. We are going to need some of those for tomorrow morning."
I rolled my eyes at her and then sat down at the table. "Hey, I've actually really got to get to work. You and Ryder are getting a ride to school, right?" I nodded yes swallowing my first bite of waffely goodness, and Mel continued. "Good. I will see you two tonight. Have fun at school today." Mel exited the door before she could hear my sarcastic comment about school and fun being in the same sentence.
"Ryder! If you don't get your butt down here, you're not getting any waffles." I screamed.
He skidded down the stairs looking particularly tired. His hair was a mess and his shirt was on inside out. "Morning." He barely mumbled out.
"What's going on with you?"
"I was on the phone all night with Holly. She…" Although I'm sure Ryder's story would be very entertaining as any psychotic, girlfriend bitch story is, but I really didn't mind the distraction of the front door opening. "Who's that?" Ryder asked helping himself to some waffles.
"Aunt Mel probably just forgot something. Aunt Mel?" I hollered through the door leading from the kitchen to the living room. She didn't answer back. I figured she didn't want to explain whatever she forgot to us, but it couldn't have hurt her to just say that she had re-entered the house. I decided to just forget about the inconsiderate gesture as I could use it later to counter any lectures about coming in late or forgetting to tell her where I was going.
"Aunt Mel?" Ryder called out this time with no answer.
Now it was getting strange. Ryder had called out. She would have answered Ryder even if she didn't want to get into a big conversation. I realize whenever she enters in the room we grab a lot of her attention, but she didn't have to give us the cold shoulder. I looked up at Ryder as he began crossing the room towards the door. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to say hi." Well duh. Of course, that's what he was going to do. I bit my lip from saying anything more, but there was something off about the entire situation.
"Who the hell are you? Get out of our house! Hey, what are you doing? Ow!"
Definitely something off about what Ryder just screamed out. "Ryder!"
"Lennox! Run! Hey, leave her alo…" I heard someone hit the ground. For a second, I hoped that Ryder had knocked out whoever was in our house. But then I remembered he was a beanpole with no muscles and just stuck to hoping that he was okay.
Either way I didn't have much time to worry about his welfare as a man had charged through the swinging door. He glared at me and I noticed that my body had flung itself towards the kitchen and grabbed one of Joe's butcher knives. I held it out towards the man. He scoffed. "Oh put that down, you child." He began to slowly walk towards me. I back up until I was pressed against the counter.
"Leave me alone." My voice was shaking, not exactly giving off the fierce, don't-touch-me-or-I'll-kill-you tone I was hoping for. In the other room, I heard Ryder scream in pain. My stomach dropped when I heard his shriek. Instantly I knew that these guys meant serious business. In my moment of shock though, I had allowed my knife to droop down and the guy had grabbed it from my hand.
Two other men crashed through the door, carrying a limp Ryder between them. "Leave him alone!" I cried out seeing my brother fading in and out of consciousness. I struggled against my captor, obviously giving a good fight as he lost grip for a split second. I basically was able to twirl away from him before he reached out to grab me again. As his right hand grabbed my waist, the knife in his left slid into my side. He pulled it out as I fell to the ground.
I heard the swinging door open. I figured it was the leader who entered because he was barking orders and he had a really loud voice. "A car is pulling up to the house. What the hell is going on in here? No, no, no forget the girl. We don't have time for one that's already hurt. We've got the boy. He's good enough." When I heard they were leaving me alone, the tension in my body released. I really didn't want to get up. My side was on fire and my fingers were groping at the hole in my side. The blood was making them sticky. I didn't want to have to keep touching the wound, but I felt like I needed to. In all of the movies, people who are shot or stabbed have to keep pressure on their wound. But all I really wanted to do at the moment was just fall asleep.
I began to relax even more when I realized they were leaving. The sound of the door slamming the wall when they through it open. The sound of footsteps hurrying out of the house. Something was nagging at the back of my mind though. Something was wrong. I couldn't let them leave. I couldn't remember why though.
I heard his voice. "Lennox. Please don't be dead. Lennox, please. Please don't die. Lennox. Help me." It was soft. Quiet. Distant. But it ignited my adrenaline as pushed myself up, determined to get to my brother. My eyelids were heavy though. I couldn't open them. By the time I had pried them open there was no one in the kitchen. "Ryder…" My voice cracked. Then there was darkness.